In contrast to the relatively stable number of physician office visits, there was an increase in the proportion of the US population with visits to ambulatory providers other than medical physicians; the average number of visits to nonphysician providers by persons with musculoskeletal diseases also increased. Nonphysician ambulatory health care providers include physical therapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors, social workers, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other related health care workers. In 1996 to 1998, approximately 40% of persons with musculoskeletal diseases visited a nonphysician health care provider at least once; by 2009 to 2011 the proportion had jumped to nearly 52%. At the same time, the average number of such visits increased from 2.6 per person to 3.7. The result was a 92% increase, from 197.5 million to 379.3 million, in total nonphysician ambulatory care visits between 1996 to 1998 and 2009 to 2011. (Reference Table 10.2 PDF CSV)
The aggregate total for all ambulatory care visits, including those to physicians and nonphysicians, thus increased over the 13-year period by 53%, from 623.0 million visits to 953.3 million visits.